Julie Travel Gear 60 Comments

Do you want to know how we capture the images that you see on our website? Here is our photography gear guide, with links and explanations of our photography gear and accessories. At the end of this post, we offer tips and tricks on how to take better photographs while traveling.

Photography Gear Guide

The Canon 5D IV, Our Main Camera

The Canon 5D is my primary camera. Almost every photo on this website was taken with this camera. However, there are two versions of it.

The majority of the photos on this website were taken with the Canon 5D Mark IV. This has been my main camera since 2017. Prior to this, I used the Canon 5D Mark III.


Is the upgrade to the Canon 5D Mark IV worth it? For me, yes. There are some very slick features that I love.

All photos can be geotagged using the built-in GPS, so I have the exact GPS coordinates for all of my photos. This seems to be an almost universal feature on cameras nowadays, so it’s not that earth shattering, but it is something the Mark III is lacking. You can get a separate GPS tagger for the camera but it makes the large camera even bulkier and heavier.

My favorite feature is the built in Wi-Fi. Now, I can transfer photos directly from the camera to my phone and then share them almost instantly on Instagram and Facebook. This is huge for me. With the Mark III, I had to wait until we were back in the hotel, transfer the photos to my computer, and then share them from there. Again, this may not be important for some people, but it makes sharing our photos and experiences on social media so much easier and convenient.

There are numerous other upgrades I love…a better, larger touch-screen LCD screen, an upgraded photo processor, and faster, more accurate focusing. The Canon 5D Mark IV is 30 MP full frame camera with the ability to shoot 4K video. The photos I get with the Mark IV are crisper and clearer than the Mark III, although it is only a mild improvement.

Here are some of my favorite photos taken with the Canon 5D Mark IV.

Venice Italy

Venice, Italy


Bastei Bridge

Bastei Bridge, Germany

Canon 24 – 70 mm f/2.8 II USM Zoom Lens

This lens is my “walking around” lens. 99% of the photos on this website were taken with this lens. I use this lens with both the Canon 5D Mark III and 5D Mark IV.

At 24 mm, it is just wide enough for landscape shots. The 70 mm gives just enough zoom to hone in on the action. This is one of the best Canon lenses you can buy and it is worth the price.

Wide-Angle Lens

I use the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens for landscape photography.

This is my newest lens and I added it in 2019 before traveling to Switzerland and Iceland. I got some gorgeous landscape shots, like this one taken in Iceland.


This is an expensive lens, but it is cheaper than the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens. This lens, with its f/2.8 maximum aperture, has an advantage in low light situations. However, it is a heavier lens and it does not have image stabilization. Not to mention that is almost double the price. But if you want a top of the line wide angle lens, have the money to spend, and don’t mind the extra weight, take a look at the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens.

Telephoto Zoom Lens

I used the Canon 70-300mm EF f/4-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens when on safari in Africa. I have also used it photographing our kids’ sports events. This is a great telephoto lens for the price you pay.

Memory Cards

The Canon 5D Mark III and Mark IV have two slots for memory cards, a Compact Flash slot and a SD card slot. My primary card is the Lexar 1066x 128 GB Compact Flash card. I shoot in camera RAW and these files get recorded onto this compact flash card.

The Canon 5D camera allows me to simultaneously shoot a second file onto an SD card. I designate this second file as a JPEG file, which gets recorded onto a SanDisk Extreme Plus 32 GB SD card. This is my backup, just in case my main memory card fails (which I’ve never had happen).

Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap

In my opinion, a good quality camera strap is a necessity. I use the Black Rapid Breathe Curve Camera Strap, a durable, comfortable strap that screws into the base of the camera and is worn across the body. It’s not the most fashionable accessory, but it does keep the camera safe from thieves or from accidentally dropping it.

Canon Intervalometer

An intervalometer is a device that plugs into the camera and controls how often and how many shots are taken. It can also work as a camera timer and it can extend your exposure time. Most people purchase an intervalometer for time-lapse photography.

Note: I rarely use this since upgrading to the Canon 5D Mark IV. The Mark IV comes with a built-in intervalometer. However, I do use this as a shutter release when shooting with long shutter speeds.

We purchased the intervalometer for time-lapse photography, but ended up primarily using it for family photos. To take our family photos, I put the camera on a tripod, attach the intervalometer, and program it to take one photo every second. As the camera takes the photos, we smile, act goofy, and take our time. There’s no setting the camera timer to get just one shot. We can pose for five minutes if we want to, while the camera clicks away. This has been invaluable in capturing the goofy family photos we love so much.

Earth Trekkers Goofy Photo

Note: When purchasing an intervalometer, make sure that it works with your camera. Not every intervalometer is compatible with every type of camera.


A tripod is another invaluable camera accessory. If you want to take photos with a long exposure time, a tripod is a must. There are a lot of expensive tripod options out there. What you are paying for is a lightweight tripod that is durable and will be stable when you attach your camera to it.

Peak Design Travel Tripod

I just started using the Peak Design Travel Tripod and I love it. It’s extremely fast to set up and put away, very durable and sturdy, lightweight, easy to use, and folds up into a compact cylinder. It’s also very expensive, coming in at around $600 USD, but for a travel tripod with these features, it makes it worth it for the serious photographer, especially if you plan to take a tripod hiking.

MeFOTO Tripod

The MeFOTO tripod was our first tripod and I highly recommend this one, too. It’s been around the world and Tim has carried it on numerous hikes and trips through cities. Even though this tripod has a low price compared with those on the higher end, the MeFOTO tripod has proven to be durable, lightweight, and dependable. On uneven slopes and surfaces we have not had a problem with it.

If you are looking for a cost conscious tripod that does a good job, check this one out.

JOBY Gorillapod Tripod

We recently added this great little tripod to our collection of camera gear. It’s small and it’s lightweight so it doesn’t take up much room or add a lot of weight to your backpack. The moldable legs can be curled around fence posts, railings, and trees. I’ve done this a bunch of times and it works great. This is a great tripod to throw into your hiking backpack rather than hiking with a larger, heavier tripod.

The Gorillapod comes in several sizes. We use the 5K stand because it is the only one large enough to hold our Canon 5D. If you purchase it as a kit, you also get the Ballhead, which allows you to swivel the camera on the tripod. I recommend purchasing the ballhead because it makes it much easier to level the camera when taking photos.

PacSafe CitySafe Anti-Theft Handbag

The PacSafe CitySafe Anti-Theft bag is a handbag, not a true camera bag. But I use it as my camera bag.

This bag is just large enough to hold my camera and the accessories listed above (other than the tripod, which Tim carries in his daypack) and few other small items. This bag is worn across your shoulder. It looks like a purse, so it is more stylish than a bulky camera bag. Plus, the PacSafe features, such as an RFID slot for your wallet, Slashguard fabric, and clips to lock your bag, all work to thwart pickpocketers and thieves.

Canon Powershot GX7 Mark II

This point-and-shoot camera, the Canon Powershot GX7 Mark II, is lightweight, tiny, and shoots great video. We upgraded to this point and shoot camera in June 2018 to use for our videos.

This camera shoots 1080p full HD video and it is an excellent compact camera if you are not looking to lug around a DSLR. 90% of the time we use it to shoot video but I have used it on occasion for photography when I did not feel like carrying a big camera around town.

This 20 MP camera can shoot time lapse video, take long exposure shots, and offers awesome image quality for a camera that is so small. You can almost keep this camera in your pocket.

If you are looking for a nice, small, inexpensive camera that also shoots quality video, check this one out!

Tyler used this camera and our drone to capture our most recent videos of 2018. Check them out our Earth Trekkers YouTube channel.

DJI Phantom 4 Drone

All of our drone photos and video were taken with the DJI Phantom 4 Drone. We purchased this back in 2016 for our trip to Scotland and Ireland and have been using it whenever possible.

Having a drone is a fun hobby, especially if you are into electronics, or have a teenager in the family who is looking for something new to do (like us!).

With a drone, you can capture some very unique photos and videos of the places you visit. It’s worth it, but it is another bag to carry onto airplanes and lug around with the rest of your luggage. Plus, there are a lot of rules about where you can and cannot fly a drone, so before you travel, you need to be prepared to do some research. There have been a number of times that we were unable to use our drone because of local laws.

Storing Your Photos

So, what do you do with all of those gorgeous photos you just took? Back them up!!

Hard Drive

I keep a copy of our photos on my laptop and a back up copy on an external hard drive. We love the WD My Passport External Hard Drives. They are small, very durable, and are travel friendly. You can purchase them with 2 TB of disk space, more than enough room for years of photos.

How to Take Better Photos

I am a self-taught photographer. Everything I know about photography I learned from reading in a book and then by practicing it over and over again. If you want to be a good photographer, you have to take photos everyday.

Julie Rivenbark

Learn all of the controls on your camera and practice using them as much as possible. If you want to take truly great photos, you have to take your camera out of its automatic mode, and start shooting in aperture, shutter, or manual mode.

Here are some books that taught me how to take a better photo.

The Best of the Digital Photography Book Series

Scott Kelby teaches photography in a practical, slightly comedic sort of way. I am a big fan of his digital photography series. This book takes the best of his advice from the entire series and condenses it down into one manual.

Understanding Exposure

Whether you are a beginner or advanced photographer, this is a great resource. In this book you will learn all about exposure, one of the most important ingredients in taking your photography to the next level.

If you have any further questions, let us know in the comment section below!

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Travel Photography Gear Guide


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All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 60

  1. Hi

    Long time reader from Ohio here. Do you use any filters on your lenses? Do you recommend any particular types? Do you have a brand preference?

    Thank you,


    1. Post

      Yes, I use a polarizing filter and/or a neutral density filter, depending on the situation. B + W is the brand that I use. Cheers, Julie

  2. Do you have a photo of yourself and your husband with some of the gear that you mentioned? I have a Canon T8i that I purchased for our dental office. Unfortunately, I would have to buy a “standard”/Non-macro lens to bring along on the trip to take family photos. We are strongly considering Yosemite due to the huge expenses of travelling to Yellowstone and Jackson (Grand Tetons). I was considering buying the timer remote controller, however, amazon does not sell this product (it is out of stock or not being manufactured). Also, I am considering buying the tripod, the BLACK RAPID RS-7 CAMERA STRAP, and a carrying case. We all wear water backpacks when we hike, so thats another concern. With all of the extra gear, we are a bit concerned about having to carry it around. We have done some tough hikes and are hoping to do the same at Yosemite, but are worried about carrying the extra gear and aren’t sure if its worth bringing a DSLR camera, or just using our iphones. Any thoughts that you might have would be appreciated (especially photos of you and husband with gear). Thanks in advance. Your website/blog posts are awesome especially for families that hike.

    1. Post

      I don’t have photos of us hiking with gear, unfortunately. I wear a hiking backpack. Inside is clothing, snacks, camera batteries, and water. I carry the Canon 5D on the Black Rapid Strap around my neck, supporting the camera in my hand when I hike. I very rarely use hiking poles when hiking so my hands are free to take photos. It’s heavy to carry in my hand on hikes but I have found it to be much easier than constantly taking it in and out of a backpack. Peak Design makes a clip that you attach to your backpack strap, so you basically attach the camera to the strap in front of your shoulder and release it to take a photo. That might be better than having a camera dangling around your neck the entire hike. We just got one but have not tested it out yet. Tim usually carries the tripod in his backpack (in one of the two side water bottle compartments). Many cameras now have built in timers and time lapse settings, so the remote timer may not be necessary. As far as if it is worth it to hike with a DSLR, that’s personal preference. They are big, heavy cameras and nowadays iPhones take great photos. We just got the new iPhones. The photos are very good but my DSLR is better, so for us, it is worth the hassle of carrying a big camera on hikes. I am looking into getting a mirrorless camera later this year, which will be smaller and lighter, but right now I still use the Mark IV. I hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi! I love your blog and have really enjoyed all the practical tips about Iceland, as my husband and I are planning to travel there this summer. Do you have a recommendation for a backpack that would also protect a DSLR? Just reading about the unpredictable weather in Iceland, I’m wondering which kind of hiking backpack to consider purchasing to also protect my camera.


    1. Post

      That is very exciting that you are planning a trip to Iceland! I don’t have a special waterproof backpack for the camera. But if I know I am in a place where the camera can get wet (rainy weather, kayaking, river hiking) I carry the camera in a dry bag. Sometimes we put a waterproof cover over the backpacks we already have and this works very well. We were able to get by just well using these and periodically drying off the camera from time to time. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi,
    I was just wondering how you protect your DSLR when hiking, especially when you have to do rock scrambling. I am always too afraid of scratching or dropping my camera off a cliff to take my DSLR on adventureous hiking trails.

    1. Post

      My camera is attached to a Black Rapid curve strap. That way I can hike hands free, to some extent. The camera does get banged around a bit…it’s got some nice scratches on the body now. Putting a hood on the lens and a UV filter will help prevent your lens. But the strap does prevent you from dropping it, which is the most important thing. Cheers, Julie

  5. Love your sense of adventure and imagery! I’ve lugged a variety of Canon cameras with me through the Inca Trail, Avenue of the Volcanoes (Ecuador), and carried my Canon 5D Mark III (with an assortment of Canon lenses) to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal, but bought the Canon R mirrorless, with the Canon RF 24-105 f/4 lens when I got back from Kathmandu. Wow I wish I had acquired it before doing that trek. It replicates so much of the Mark IV, but is so much lighter! I hardly ever use the Mark III anymore on my hikes and climbs in Utah where I live!

    Keep up the excellent work with this page!

    1. Post

      Thank you so much for writing in with this info. I have seriously been considering going mirrorless…the Canon 5D is a beast but I love the photos we get with it. Thanks for the recommendation…it’s nice to get suggestions from other travelers/photographers. You’re also very lucky to live in Utah…we travel out your way at least once a year and joke that we should just move there. Happy travel and thanks again, Julie

  6. Hi Julie,

    Love your blogs. I wanted to know what software you use for time lapses and video editing. Do you use lightroom for time lapses or something else?


    1. Post

      We use Premier Pro for video editing. I use Lightroom for photo editing. If we have any time lapses on our website, they were most likely filmed with our point-and-shoot camera, which has a time lapse feature built in, so they weren’t edited. Cheers, Julie

  7. Hello Julie, Thank you for posting all the information on how you capture these amazing photos! We are travelling to New Zealand next month and would like to take good pictures of our adventure, however, we are very much beginners. Do you have any advise on a good beginner camera ? Any information would be very helpful!
    BTW, love your blog!


    1. Post

      Hello Lizbeth. I’m glad you like our blog! 🙂 Before moving to the Canon 5D Mark 3 and 4, I used the Canon entry-level DSLR cameras and loved them (I’ve been a Canon fan since 1998). I don’t know a whole lot about them, but a lot of people like mirrorless cameras. They are smaller and lighter and more travel friendly. I have not made the switch (or looked into making the switch) since I so comfortable with the Mark 4 (and invested a lot of money into it). I don’t have any specific suggestions, but I recommend visiting a good camera store and learning about your options. It also really helps to hold it and try it out in the store before you buy it. BTW, occasionally an iPhone photo will sneak its way into a blog post. The panorama feature is incredible. The newer smart phones have great cameras. I still really think its worth it to get a “real” camera, but a smart phone is a nice back up. Have fun in New Zealand! Cheers, Julie

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